The Chinese New Year is one of China’s most celebrated holidays, so in this blog we will be taking a look at the history of the Chinese New year and some of the traditions that take place…
The Lunar Year
In the west, we use the Gregorian Calendar, which was named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in 1582. It is a solar calendar, which means the dates are set against one of the Earth’s orbits around the sun.
The Chinese calendar, on the other hand, is a Lunisolar Calendar, which combines the lunar and solar types. While day-to-day the Gregorian Calendar is used, when it comes to important celebrations like Chinese New Year, the date depends on the traditional lunisolar type.
What year is it?
There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac and each has a year named after it. However, unlike western astrology, this zodiac has nothing to do with star constellations. There are many tales explaining why these animals were chosen to represent the zodiac and in the order that they are listed in.
2020 marks the Year of the Rat, and it is often said that people have the traits of the animal whose year they were born in. For example, those born in the Year of the Rat are clever, quick thinkers; successful, but content with living a quiet and peaceful life. They are also said to be likeable by all and be sensitive to other’s emotions but stubborn with their own opinions. Their personality is kind, but due to weak communication skills, their words may seem impolite and rude.
Preparing for Chinese New Year
One of the most important preparations for Chinese New Year is preparing the home by ensuring it is bright and spotless for the year ahead. The festival is seen as a time when good luck enters the home and by cleaning it beforehand you are getting rid of any ill-fortune that surrounds you.
After this is done all brooms are stored safely away so that no luck can be accidentally swept out of the door. Paper decorations are then hung and some homeowners even add a fresh layer of red paint to their door and window frames. After all that hard work, on the eve of the new year families sit down to a Reunion Dinner, which is the equivalent of Christmas Dinner in the west.
Chinese New Year celebrations
Chinese New Year is the most important holiday on the calendar and is also known as the Spring Festival. It’s not just celebrated in China either, but also in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and probably near you too, as Chinatowns across the globe often get involved. Letting off fireworks and firecrackers is a popular custom and the day is spent sharing greetings and blessing with neighbours. The noise from the fireworks and firecrackers also helps to scare the evil spirits away whilst the good luck settles in. Cleaning and sweeping are forbidden on this day or else the good fortune will be swept away.
Chinese New Year lasts several days and each day has its own traditions. For example, the second day would traditionally be when married daughters would visit their parents and siblings. There are plenty more exciting events that take place in China after the New Year such as the Lantern Festival in February!
We would like to wish everyone a Happy Chinese New Year and we hope this year is filled with good fortune for you all!